Tenn. Hospital Association Speaks out on TennCare Expansion

Jul 9, 2012

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The head of the Tennessee Hospital Association says the entire state will suffer if TennCare isn’t expanded under the new federal health care law.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld most of the Affordable Care Act, but justices struck down a mandate for states to expand their Medicaid programs.

Tennessee Hospital Association President Craig Becker says the state’s hospitals are already spending $1.2 billion dollars a year treating patients who can’t pay, and those costs are spiraling out of control.

“What happens is that we end up cost-shifting these charity care dollars over to the paying customer on the commercial side, and as our prices go up and premiums go up businesses drop it (health insurance) and therefore we have less commercial insurance.”

Gov. Bill Haslam says he hasn’t decided yet whether to expand TennCare, Tennessee's version of Medicaid, which currently covers about 1.2 million people.